• Kitchen –Michael Lawlor
  • Kitchen –Michael Lawlor
  • Kitchen –Michael Lawlor
  • Kitchen –Michael Lawlor


Michael Lawlor

02 October
24 October 1987

Curated by: Phillip McCrum


Michael Lawlor

Curated by: Phillip McCrum

The OR Gallery Society is pleased to announce the opening of a floating gallery at 505 Hamilton Street, 3rd Floor. The first exhibition, in conjunction with Urbanarium, is Michael Lawlor’s Kitchen, (Photographic Exposures). This show will be followed by a full fall schedule that will be available in the next few weeks. At this time we would like to thank those of you who have supported the OR through the last few months and of course, over the years of its existence. In particular, we would like to acknowledge the work or the artists and curators whose efforts have kept the OR an interesting and available venue in a shrinking Vancouver. We look forward to being active once again.



Catalogue ’19’ in conjunction with Urbanarium Festival ’87


Kitchen, Michael C. Lawlor


KITCHEN was made to respond to the situation I am in; a male; and artist; a societal matrix with some delusions of autonomy being eroded. As a member of a cultural milieu I am continually reminded that there are many ‘cultures’ being expressed; and many discourses which purport the facts of all the represents that I engage it. Since truth values can mislead as easy, I became concerned with use value instead.


This was explained to my mentor, and I also said that in an empty room, with film and camera, one could exit with a full description of concerns. That mentor dared me to a place I’d never seen too often and ordered proof. I went in and explained myself as best I could. I put myself into the room in more ways than one. Statistics have their uses, and societal analysis of sex and economic positioning, but many individuals do not feel a part of groups. Parts may be greater than the defined whole.


But I am implicated in this place. Free standing in the gallery this is a placing of my body. Politic, conclusions are assembled with desires from many places. And I keep trying to wish myself without Other contradicting. Make the colours real and the parts together, not assembled. This is now your part when placing the body within these enclosures.


This site was chosen for its metonymic referencing. For four years I lived in this house with other men; moved away, and returned five years later to find traces of myself still there. It was a strange feeling, of going into a museum and finding myself the subject on display. This led to that. I left that part there. It is quite possible that I mis-remember who put what where, or who even left it in place all that time; if they actually did.


You may wish to see evidence. One man, now a lawyer in the north, left two years before I did. He instituted the practice of recycling tin cans and bottles. Finding this practice still in force when I returned it became necessary to locate the depot in order to expel the accumulation of absent years. A special treat, palm hearts, had gone bad in their can. I remember their being bought because we recognized that they were ecologically suspect. Their harvest kills the palm tree.


But I am implicated in this place. One does not live for years in one place, and share experiences with co-renters, and leave without some transference. An exchange of interests, values, identities tend to merge. That choice is made at some time; its recognition not always. The body parts; implicated in the place, the show, I implicated in the photograph.


KITCHEN responds to aspects of conditions in myself; as male; as artist; as a societal matrix with some illusions of autonomy being erased. When engaging in cultural actions I am continually being reminded that there are many ‘wishes’ to be expressed; and many discourses which offer truth about too many cravings that I exercise. Since truth values are so easily made false, I had to become concerned with use value instead.


Here is another misleading, or, rather, inadequate, gift of a descriptive system, The pictures do not align. The colours do not even subjectively work they have been subdued to order all those images we are surrounded by which we choose to tell us all about our life even as we say we disagree. An overloaded group of images may start to leak and show the seams of their joined related topics.


If it is true that style encloses rhetoric then you may feel yourself an author. I would redefine, or open up, old metaphors which pose limited roles. My display of me is only of some intersections where, untended, signposts seem to point in different directions to the self same destination. They are not as divergent as their names, just more complex. Historic, sexuality are other names for different ways of wishing.


But I am implicated in this place. Careful analytic orderings are fragile walls. Inside is only vulnerable protection, as in any discourse. Opacity here is revealing only in so far as it refuses to be hiding. No construction is just out together from on source but implicates relations of my sex and class and cost and you are allowed as well.


I WAS IN THE LIVING ROOM watching the sports report with Jack when I heard footsteps on the porch and a soft voiced, “Is anybody home:” The voice was low, and faint enough that I first thought it might be at the house next door, but I went to the porch to see. The front door of our house was open and the porch light was on. On the porch I saw a woman; she was bent over at the waist, with her left arm extended to lean on the door jamb. Her legs were held close together and in her right hand she held a package of Players cigarettes. She was wearing faded blue jeans; there was a mark on the right thigh, about mid-way between the knee and the hip, that looked as if it were wet. (It may have been semen.) She said, “Call an ambulance.”


I ASKED HER, “Are you alright? What’s wrong: Here; sit down.” and I assisted her to sit on a stump on the porch.


SHE SAID, “I was raped.” I went into the living room and asked Jack to call an ambulance–and the police. I went back to the porch and tried to figure out what I could. I asked her if she would like a glass of water and went into the kitchen to get her one. She took a sip and put the glass down. I was afraid she would fall off the stump so I put my arm around her shoulders and assisted her into the kitchen and sat her in a chair. She walked hunched over and trying to hold her legs together. Jack was talking into the telephone in the next room and I could hear parts of phrases. “Police…our address… when…just now…it happened…ambulance.” I asked her where it happened and she waved her arm and said, “Over there…in a house…down there.”


I ASKED HER. “Do you know the address:” and she responded with a “No.” I did not want to press her or seem to threaten her. I was very conscious of the fact that I am a man and that she had been hurt by a man. She was dazed, hurt, and in shock. She needed comforting and medical attention. I did not even know if giving her the glass of water could destroy potential evidence. I had looked to the house next door to see if there were any lights on because I knew there was a woman living there. The house was dark. I asked her if she knew the person who had done it and she said, “There were twelve.” I told Jack that there were twelve and he told the telephone that “Many people were involved.”


I GOT THE GLASS OF WATER from the front porch and put it on the kitchen table beside her. I told her that an ambulance was on the way and would be here soon. When I spoke to her I bent down, not wanting to appear authoritarian or threatening, so that she did not have to look up. She was bent forward on the chair. When she spoke I could see that it was with great effort. I heard a car stop in front of the house and footsteps on the porch. I went into the hallway and saw, with relief that it was a woman, a policewoman entering the house.


THE POLICEWOMAN, who was later referred to as “Officer 92,” had a two-way walkie-talkie in her left hand and she put it down on the kitchen table. The injured woman was sitting in a captains chair at one end of a rectangular table. By the long side of the table there was a straight-backed, glossy, re-painted white enamel, old kitchen chair. 92 put her hands on the top of the chair back and leaned, straight-armed, over It. I was outraged–the woman in the chair needed comfort and this bitch was pulling a power trip.


92 ASKED WHERE they had hurt her. Her voice weakened from shallow breathing, and with a slow, careful gesture of her arm to her groin, she said, “Here… In the front…And the back.” 92 asked other questions. Did she know where the incident had occurred? Who did it? Where did she live? (She was from Vanderhoof and did not know Vancouver well enough to know where the rape was done to her.) I did not hear all the responses, they were spoken so softly, almost whispered. “..in a van…hid In back…East Indians…motel…house over there. ..down street…motel…pushed me out.”


92 THEN PICKED UP the walkie-talkie and said, “It’s a (code number.)” She used many code numbers; I suspect that there is a code number for every situation that the police encounter more than once. I guessed that she was confirming that an Incident had, indeed, happened. I started to realize that she had been leaning on the chair for support, not because of nonchalence. She said, “In a motel.” “It was East Indians.”


“She is vague.” I remember only parts of the conversation; the flow was broken by the incomprehensible code numbers.


A POLICEMAN CAME IN THE DOOR so I went into the hall way and directed him into the kitchen. The kitchen is directly in line with the hall and I could see the front door and the porch from the kitchen. 92 told him what she had found out as more police cars pulled up outside. There were four more policemen coming in as I went back to the hallway. There was more than enough going on in the kitchen for a hurt woman without me interfering. A policeman asked Jack and me to wait in the living room as the kitchen was too busy. I went outside. Someone asked who had been the first to see the woman and I said, “I was.”


TWO MORE POLICE ARRIVED, one an older, white haired woman. She looked like what I can only describe as matronly, and competent. Four policemen, two of them plain-clothed, arrived on the steps of the porch. They were sent to check out the nearest motel. Two men in white clothes brought a stretcher into the kitchen. 92 came out and said, pointing to me, “He’s a nineteen. He was the first one to see her.” Jack came out on the porch. The police wanted to get a statement from us and asked Jack to go back into the living room because they wanted separate statements. I told one of the policemen what part I knew of what happened while he wrote it down in a tattered, lined notebook.


ISAAC, WHO LIVED next door, came over to find out what was going on. Jack came out. We went to tell Isaac what was going on. He said he had seen the woman a short time previously. “Was she wearing bluejeans? An Indian; with short hair?” We listened and confirmed that it was the same woman he had seen. She had been staggering along the sidewalk and had passed him. He had thought she was stoned or drunk. I told him I had not smelled alcohol on her breath.


THE TWO WHITELY DRESSED MEN brought their patient down the steps in a stretcher, dropped the wheels and rolled her across the street to the ambulance. They loaded her in the back and drove away.


THE POLICE ASKED ISAAC what he had seen and took down his statement. A similar incident had taken place a few weeks earlier near 33rd and Main. The police thanked us for our assistance and left to do what they could. I was left with the dry angry frustrated feeling I get when something bad has happened and I can do nothing about It. The woman called in at our door at 11: 30 PM. The police left at 11: 55 PM.


ISAAC, JACK AND I SAT down on the front porch and talked. We tried to piece together what the situation was, putting together a weaving of words overheard from police comments and scraps of past experience. A friend of mine had been the first person to have contact with a woman after she had been raped a few months previously. In his case the woman had known the attacker and my friend had had to appear as a witness in court. I did not think that I would have to- 92 had said that this victim was too incoherent and it was unlikely that any arrests could be made.


WE TALKED about Isaacs work. He was doing electronics for a band that was fixing up a house to work In. We wondered about an unmarked semi-trailer truck that was parked around the corner with its refrigeration unit running noisily. We discussed the possibility of it being loaded with steaks and unlocked. We could steal a few. Isaac went home to bed and Jack and I turned on the late show. We had missed the sports report.


@1987, M.C.Lawlor Group of Two Publication Vancouver, B.C.

Printed in an edition of 59 copies for the exhibition of KITCHEN 1987 at the OR Gallery, Vancouver, B.C. October 2nd to 17th, 1987


Vanguard Dec ’87 /Jan ’88 by Peter Culley